A.N. Wilson

I have been really enjoying Andrew Wilson’s memoir, Confessions, which arrived through the post on Monday: a very entertaining, but also sometimes darker description of his upbringing and early marriage, including a lot of introspection and gossip. The thing I found by far the most shocking was the date of his birth in 1950 because when I first met him – it must have been in 1971 – he was already married, living in a little terrace house in Jericho and wearing a three-piece suit, having been kitted out by his father at a tailor in South Wales and because – I never knew this – wearing a sports jacket was regarded as the garb of an undergraduate.

There’s a particularly good short chapter on Wedgwood where his father was a successful managing director during the 1950s – ex-army, deeply inculcated with belief in the potteries, extremely knowledgeable and quite adventurous in the choice of artists who were commissioned – and how in 1962, when the firm went public, he was fired and Wedgwood then gobbled up all the other smaller potteries, effectively destroying Stoke-on-Trent as a centre of manufacture. There is a lesson here (he tells it) about how Britain excelled in traditional craft skills and that it may not have been as inevitable as we have been encouraged to think that these industries were all axed – not least because the idea of the smaller specialist company focussed round design and skill has been maintained in Germany.

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